Acquiring or disposing of new premises, whether self-owned or leased, is an important step for any business and needs to be handled professionally by a team who can push through the process efficiently. Your business can then start the next stage of its journey.

We have specialist commercial property solicitors who can take care of any of the following:

  • Buying & selling a property
  • Leases & licences
  • Property development
  • Lease renewals & rent reviews

Buying & selling a property

Our commercial property department has wide experience of buying and selling all types of commercial property. Our experience extends from offices, shops, factory and warehouse premises to property such as public houses, care homes, hotels and filling stations.

Often a commercial property purchase or disposal will need to be co-ordinated as part of a larger transaction such as the sale of a business.

Gowen & Stevens can advise you on the best way to approach such an acquisition or disposal, suggesting specialist terms to be inserted in the contract and whether or not conditions should be imposed within the transfer documents to cover matters such as planning or the imposition of restrictions and covenants specific to the particular use to which the premises may be placed.

It is always best to instruct us as early as possible – even often before a buyer or seller is found in order that we may be able to advise on the structure of the transaction. We will guide you through the decision making process and explain the procedure. We can provide realistic advice on time scales and of course costs.

Should the need arise, Gowen & Stevens will always be able to introduce you to specialist valuers or surveyors, bankers and other sources of specialist finance if you need them.

Leases & licences

Leases & licences are often confused, however, each is a specific type of document. The commercial property department of Gowen & Stevens has wide experience in acting for both landlords and tenants and in respect of premises ranging from small shops or offices through to retail networks and industrial estates.

Whilst the form of any lease is, broadly speaking, similar in every instance, in practice, each lease is drafted for a specific property. We listen to the requirements of landlords and prepare leases in accordance with those instructions making suggestions where we consider that they may be, in the longer term, of benefit to the client.

We will advise you whether or not a lease should be included or excluded from the terms of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 Part II (as amended):

  • On the frequency of rent reviews
  • On the nature and extent of service charges which you may wish or indeed need to raise
  • On the level of repairing obligations which you may wish to impose (or if a tenant reduce)

Where acting for a tenant on the grant of a new lease, instructing us early can ensure that we can advise upon the Heads of Terms and whether these are reasonable and fair and in line with current trends.

Often, by careful amendment, it may be possible to lessen a tenant’s obligations and thus ensure that the lease is more attractive as and when the time comes for it to be assigned/transferred to a third party.

Licences are, in effect, the consent of a landlord to a tenant to do a number of different things. It may be, at its most common, to assign a lease to a third party or to permit the sharing of occupation with another person or company. If you wish to undertake work to the premises of which you are a tenant, the landlord’s licence to Permit Alterations will often be required. Our commercial property department can assist both landlords and tenants in determining when such a licence may be required and in the drafting or amending of such documents.

Property development

No one in the United Kingdom can be unaware of the fact that in many parts of the country property values are rising steadily and there is a considerable demand to increase housing. Such circumstances have been responsible for persuading many individuals, in addition to established building contractors and larger commercial organisations, as to the benefits of property development.

This can be a complex area dependent upon the scale and nature of the development and the financial rewards - if successfully executed can be considerable.

Gowen & Stevens has experience of acting for property developers and “budding” developers that ranges from turning back-gardens into building plots or converting offices to residential accommodation.

Gowen & Stevens has experience of drafting Option Agreements, in preparing assignments of Option Agreements and additionally can advise on the planning process and particularly with regard to the matter of Overage – ensuring that any improvement in Planning Consent which results in an enhanced value to a developer may be shared with the original seller. We can undertake site examinations and help put together development sites comprising several properties in different ownerships.

Lease renewals & rent reviews

Increasingly, today a landlord may decide to grant a business lease “outside the terms of the Landlord and Tenant Act”. Such a decision may be beneficial for the landlord and the tenant should seek advice on its/his/her position.

If the business lease is granted “within the act” then if you are a tenant you need to consider whether you wish to stay on at the end of the term granted – or indeed if you wish to leave then you need to seek advice as to the actions which you should take – and the timing of those actions which may otherwise cause you unlooked for expense.

As a landlord you will need to give your tenant notice of at least six months to bring a lease to an end at the end of the term – or a later date dependent upon when you serve the notice! The notice needs to be in an appropriate form.

If, as a landlord, you are willing to agree renewal terms with your tenant again the notice proposing those terms must be in the correct form.

Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, Gowen & Stevens can guide you through this process with its time limits and associated technical requirements.

Many leases today contain break clauses. These clauses may permit either the landlord or the tenant or sometimes both parties to terminate a lease before the end of the term. Considerable care needs to be exercised in successfully operating such clauses and you should always seek advice well before any notice date.

How a rent review operates will normally be clearly set out in the lease but a landlord will generally need to give its tenant notice in advance. If the necessary procedure is not followed the landlord may lose the opportunity to increase the rent or the increase may be delayed.

As a tenant, you should seek advice if your landlord takes no action or is late in operating the rent review.

The landlord’s opportunity may be lost or alternatively your landlord may be entitled to implement the review years later.

Other matters

We have set out in the above sections, a small sample of the types of work undertaken by the commercial property department. In addition, the department also has experience of dealing with the following:

  • The acquisition and disposal of licensed premises of all descriptions
  • Preparing property for/and purchasing property at auction
  • Lease extensions
  • Financing and re-mortgaging of property
  • Conditional contracts
  • Investment acquisitions
  • Development agreements

The commercial property team is always willing to discuss your requirements. It is often better to seek advice before embarking on projects than after you have agreed, possibly disadvantageous terms.